Friday, April 12, 2013

Climate change: The latest inventory and the net position

The annual inventory report [PDF] of our greenhouse gas emissions has been released. The headline data:


Gross emissions rose by almost a million tons in 2011 - a change characterised by the government as "slightly". The apparent culprit is a single company importing a large volume of HFCs in order to evade future carbon charges. But underlying that there is the ongoing rise in agricultural emissions - an increase the government has no intention of doing anything about. Meanwhile, removals from forests have been falling as trees are harvested and land is converted to dairying.

Together, these trends are unsustainable. But to the rich old men running our government, they're Somebody Else's Problem (meanwhile they're happy to keep shovelling welfare at farmers when the consequences of their actions come back to bite them in the form of floods and droughts).

The annual net position report confirms these trends, and adds projections for 2012 emissions showing rising emissions and a declining surplus. New Zealand will still come out in credit across Kyoto's first Commitment period (thanks in part to dodgy, Enron-style accounting), but the trend beyond that is not good. Which is probably why National refused to sign up for Kyoto 2: it would have required actual policy and emissions reductions, rather than just fiddling the numbers.